Dads, Daughters, and Change: Part 3

Posted: January 26, 2010 in Dads and Daughters, Family, Parenting

From the tween through the teen years, she’ll be continually bombarded with messages of what a woman is via world definition.  You, dad, are the sentry assigned to the gateposts of your daughter’s heart and mind, doing battle with the ideas and images that would storm the gates and lay waste to the castle.  And just because she becomes an adult woman doesn’t mean the messages stop.  In fact, it just means that they’re all the more focus-grouped straight into her life through television, magazines, internet, music, and every other medium available on the planet.  While the world may expect her to settle for what it offers, God has set her apart for more!  So guide her with nobility and commitment to her and to the Lord, keeping your eyes and heart on full alert.  And reassure her with confidence that God has something out of this world in store for her.

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  – Ephesians 5:15-16

 Before we move on, can I be frank with you?  I mean, I feel like we know each other, having so much in common.  Have you done battle with your own heart lately?  Are you ready to defeat the wrong images in your own life?  I do not suggest that this is prerequisite to properly raising your daughter, for I do not wish to marginalize God’s ability to raise a healthy daughter through a broken man.  But there is a loss of both strength and will to fight that occurs when you sip tea regularly with the very enemy that you are sworn to defeat on your daughter’s behalf.  So what images of a woman have you let into your mind today?  This week?  This month?  Are they healthy images?  If we’re going to get right about seeing our daughters in a “circumspect” way as their bodies mature, we’re going to have to settle the question of the images that reside on our computers, in our minds, and in our hearts.  I’m suggesting that there is an extra, more obscure reason that you and I are so uncomfortable with the physical changes that accompany our daughters becoming women.  Were you aware up until now that the wrong images that you have ingested are images not just of women, but of daughters, made in God’s image just like yours?  Wake up man, enter into everyman’s battle, deal with this enemy and much of your discomfort will go away.  As a dad, it’s impossible to walk in a freedom that is not yet yours and not dealing with it is going to keep some barriers between you and your daughter firmly in place.  And it’s not just you.  It’s me.  It’s every man.  We need to regularly repent, confess, and seek God’s renewal as we move into the next stage of our relationships with our daughters. 

 Up until now you’ve been the father of a little girl which means you’ve probably tickled her till she’s blue, tossed her in the air, been the guest of honor at many tea parties, and moonlighted as Jungle Jim who she has climbed all over.  Now that your little girl is becoming a young lady, some of these interactions will change.  Part of the reason is that her body is changing in many ways.  The most obvious changes occur outwardly.  Many daddies forget that their little girls will one day grow breasts.  Go ahead and reread that statement.  This can be uncomfortable for a father on many fronts.  But it is a great reminder to us that God created the female body for beauty and honor.  As men, we know the beauty well, but tend to know the honor only in an academic sort of way.  It’s important for us to have some internal dialogue about this for a lot of reasons.  It will help us to come to terms with it, so that we can honestly convey attitudes of honor and not of shame.  It will also help us to keep it in mind as our physical contact with our daughters evolves.  

 Her emotions are changing too.  As she grows, hormones start to kick in and subtly (or not so subtly) go about their work.  Little deals become big deals and big deals become end of the world moments.  When this happens from time to time, just remember to have an extra dose of understanding and compassion.  Then try to give her a steady relational foundation.  Because when her whole world feels like it’s shaking, she’s going to need something solid to grab hold of. 

 Her interests are changing as well.  So it is fitting that your activities together change.  Whatever her interests, time together with your daughter is key.  This is a chance for you to speak volumes into her life as you continue to build upon the foundation that you’ve already laid in the early years.  Not only are you in a sense helping to build a woman, but you are building a shelter of trust in your relationship.  She’s going to seek cover under this trust in the coming years.  There are some other dynamics going on here that cannot be overlooked. 

 One day she will start to date.  One day she will even marry.  Well, your daughter will.  Mine will be living in a convent on a remote island.  Don’t look for it; it’s not on any maps.  As fathers, we have the advantage here.  We once were boys.  We know what goes through a boy’s mind.  (I am convinced that this is why God gives each daughter a daddy).  So this prospect of boy-girl interaction puts all our antennae on full alert.  And unless your daughter is a convent-mate with mine, you have to think about this sooner rather than later.  In a very real way, dads fear the day that their daughters begin dating.  How will you protect her?  How will she respond to you?  How will she feel about you riding in the backseat on each date?  These are real questions.  The answer lies in not that future someday moment, but in the now moments.  We have a real chance right now to influence our daughters’ future decisions.  Now is the best opportunity to build into your daughter confidence in the Lord and who He has made her to be.  You have a chance right now to build into your girl some very high expectations as to how she is to be treated by boys.  But this isn’t confined simply to her girlhood.  The standards she sets for her life are being written right now:  how she is treated by men, her sense of self-concept, her commitment to communicate with her spouse, her love and zeal for the Lord. 

 So how in the world do you get your arms around such an overwhelming task?  You can start by dating her mother regularly.  Setting an example of how a man treats a woman is valuable.  Treat her mother with respect and honor – her mind, her body, her spirit.  Not only is her mother a great object lesson in how a man treats a woman, but she is the other key person that alongside you is building your daughter into a woman.

Read more in “Part 4”, the final installment of this series.

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